Check out my latest post at AIGA and find out who influences icons (and future icons) like John Maeda, David Airey, George Lois, Jan Wilker, and Paula Scher.


Everything is Design

Must-see when in New York: Paul Rand: Everything is Design, an exhibition where you can see more than 150 posters, ads, books, brochures, and sketches by the legendary American modernist. It’s inspiring work, and it’s always great to see these designs in person rather than just online. At the Museum of the City of New York through September 7.


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Best of 2014

Fast Company’s Co.Design gave me 2 great honors. They named Graphic Icons one of The Best Design Books of 2014 (which also includes greats like Paul Rand and Abbott Miller), writing “In this crucial book for any design lover, Clifford takes readers on a history tour illustrated with the work of the world’s most famous graphic designers.” They also include my work among The Most Important Design Lessons of 2014 and write “John Clifford takes a spin through history to show how yesterday’s design pioneers have influenced, and continue to inspire, today’s designers.” It’s a thrill. Thank you, Fast Company!


12 Days of Designers

Designing for the holidays can be a tough. How can you create a greeting each year that looks appropriate yet hasn’t been done a million times before? I dug through the archives of the designers featured in Graphic Icons and am sharing an assortment of their holiday designs for your inspiration. Watch for #12DaysOfDesigners on twitter. I’ll share one image each day, beginning on December 12th and wrapping up on the 23rd. I’ll also post the images here each day. Get inspired and share some of your favorites.

Last day! Saul Bass, 1968. Thanks to AIGA Design Archives.


Day 11: early Josef Müller-Brockmann for Bally. Thanks to Swann Galleries.


Day 10: Seasons Greetings from Paul Rand, 1957. Thanks to Aaron Cohen at Project Object.


Day 9: Seymour Chwast, 2014. Thanks to Chwast’s Quote at Print Magazine.


Day 8: Ed Fella, 2011-12, by hand. Thanks to Bijan Berahimi.


Day 7: no clichés here: Edward McKnight Kauffer, holiday greeting for Ric Gregory, 1936.


Day 6: Alex Steinweiss, album cover for Mantovani Christmas Carols, 1950s. You can buy this at New Documents.

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Day 5: Max Huber, best wishes from Il Giorno, 1957. From Designspiration.

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Day 4: Milton Glaser for New York magazine, 1974. Thanks to Bob Caruthers on flickr.


Day 3: Brownjohn, Chermayeff & Geismar, late 1950s. Thanks to MoMA.

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Day 2: Candy Christmas tree by Herbert Matter for House & Garden, 1953. Thanks to Conde Nast.


Day 1: Herbert Bayer, 1942. Via flickr: Playing Futures: Applied Nomadology.


HOW Magazine

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“A great big book of who’s who in the creative world, Graphic Icons: Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design is a visual tour de force that features everything from posters to multimedia projects. Striking work from the likes of Paul Rand, Milton Glaser, Paula Scher and other greats provides the imagery that guides readers through the pages.” Thank you, HOW Magazine!

Recent Press


Aqua-Velvet calls Graphic Icons a “visually rich book…Brimming with a who’s who list of international graphic designers whose work has both shaped our industry in a significant and ongoing manner…the book seeks to serve as an entertaining primer.” It’s also great to be featured on grain edit, and included in their gift guide.

The fun thing about my book has been learning not only about design and typography, but about working and careers as well. I shared some insights from the icons in a guest post at The Creative Group’s blog: 5 Career Tips from Famous Graphic Designers.

Will Burtin


Graphic design is usually not a matter of life and death. For Will Burtin, though, the lives of World War II combat fighters depended on the clarity and effectiveness of his design.

Burtin was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943, and designed gunnery-training manuals for air combat. The challenge was not only making complex information easy for soldiers to understand and remember, but also to consider how factors like time, motion, and judgment factored into the training. Burtin demonstrated that design can deliver important and useful information, and that its beauty lies in clarity and effectiveness. His well-designed manuals cut the Army’s gunnery training time in half, and they set a pattern for his future work: thoroughly researching a complex subject and distilling it into a visual presentation.

Check out more of Graphic Icons at Peachpit.